Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Getting to know proteins in type 2 diabetes

Project summary

Proteins are key to keeping insulin-making beta cells healthy. But in type 2 diabetes, something goes wrong with the process where beta cells make new proteins. Dr Daniela Nasteska will study this in detail to understand what goes wrong and how this leads to type 2 diabetes. This could pave the way to new treatments for type 2 diabetes and unlock better ways to grow beta cells in the lab, ready for transplant. 

Background to research

Proteins are trusty workers that support our cells’ structures and keep them functioning. When older proteins are no longer capable of working, our cells will break them down and replace them with new proteins. The continuous making (protein synthesis) and breaking down (protein degradation) of proteins makes sure that our cells stay healthy and work as they should.  

Type 2 diabetes develops when beta cells in the pancreas fail to release enough insulin. We know protein synthesis in beta cells may have gone wrong when this happens. But we don’t understand precisely how or why this happens. Knowing this could be key to keeping beta cells working in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Research aims

Dr Daniela Nasteska and her team will run pioneering experiments to measure and track protein turnover in beta cells. Firstly, the team will map out all protein synthesis and degradation over time in healthy beta cells. To do this, they’ll use a special protein that normally shines green, but turns into red under light, as a marker. This colour change will help the team visualise the protein turnover in beta cells.   

Next, they’ll study how beta cell protein synthesis becomes different when developing type 2 diabetes. They’ll also investigate if and how current type 2 diabetes drugs, which help beta cells to release insulin, have any impact on protein synthesis. And will explore how our genes are linked to protein turnover.   

Finally, they’ll have a closer look at protein synthesis in lab-made beta cells. Scientists hope in the future lab-made beta cells could be transplanted into people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to help them produce enough of their own insulin again. But currently lab-made cells don’t perform very well. Dr Nasteska will figure out if problems with protein synthesis could be behind this. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Understanding the continual making and breaking down of proteins in beta cells could help us find new treatments that stop beta cells going wrong and help people with or at risk of type 2 diabetes to make more insulin.  

The project could also shed light on better ways to produce new beta cells in the lab, which could take us a step closer to finding a cure for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk